It’s been virtually two years for the reason that Portland Bureau of Transportation determined towards constructing bike lanes on SE Hawthorne Blvd, a transfer that disillusioned native advocates who’d pined for a radical reconfiguration of the road. Sinced then, town completed a repaving venture on Hawthorne that introduced some security advantages, however has largely been seen as a lackluster resolution to the issues that stay for bicycle riders.
This previous Saturday, PBOT Planner Zef Wagner joined the Southeast Chapter of Bike Loud PDX to guide a tour of upcoming greenways round Hawthorne. Wagner is main PBOT’s plan to construct a number of new greenway routes intersecting with Hawthorne in an effort to make the realm extra bike-friendly regardless of the dearth of motorbike services on Hawthorne itself.
There’s no animosity between Bike Loud members and Wagner (he’s attended a number of of their rides), nevertheless it was evident from this weekend’s trip that folks haven’t completely moved on from the Hawthorne resolution.
The world surrounding the bustling industrial primary road is rife with automobile visitors in a method that’s inhospitable to individuals biking and strolling, and it spills onto the close by greenways. Individuals trying to cross on the newly upgraded crosswalks seem anxious and rush throughout the road even once they have a inexperienced mild.
Once I’m driving by means of the realm on my own, I’d overlook among the main points on Hawthorne, however driving with a PBOT staffer and a bunch of passionate bike advocates, they have been unimaginable to disregard.
Though some greenway upgrades are higher than nothing, they pale compared to what advocates assume is critical to be able to make this space higher for biking. And this concentrate on Hawthorne-area greenways brings again the identical debates that have been current when PBOT first determined towards bike lanes on the road, citing the close by Lincoln/Harrison and Salmon/Taylor greenways as viable alternate options.
Portland’s greenways – beforehand often known as “bike boulevards” – make up a community of neighborhood streets that prioritize individuals biking and strolling. The greenways have been initially often known as “bike boulevards” again when town started to ascertain the community within the Nineteen Eighties after interior eastside residents requested for extra diversion to push automobile visitors off their neighborhood streets.
Today, Portland’s greenway system is made up of greater than 100 miles of neighborhood streets citywide that are supposed to supply individuals a secure, low-stress community of routes they’ll use with out having to cope with a whole lot of automobile drivers.
Consider the greenway system is as a shadow community of town’s “main” streets – a.okay.a., those full of retailers and eating places. This implies individuals on bikes don’t have direct and easy accessibility to locations, and bike visitors is basically hidden from the non-biking public. In case you have been sitting outdoors certainly one of Hawthorne’s many espresso retailers or strolling between its thrift shops and boutiques, you would possibly by no means see a motorbike rider. And in the event you did see one, it might sound sketchy to trip and not using a devoted bike lane subsequent to so many automobiles. It’s not precisely an excellent commercial for biking.
Even PBOT Bike Coordinator Roger Geller thinks this can be a drawback. In February 2020 he informed town’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, “If there was a giant inexperienced bike lane subsequent them as they have been driving with lots of people biking on it, they may say, ‘Oh, I can see the way in which to bike. As an alternative of driving these streets, I simply get on my bike.’ However that’s not the case as a result of the neighborhood greenway community is slightly hidden, particularly to people who find themselves newer to city.”
On Saturday, trip contributors identified that most individuals aren’t aware of the greenway system shadowing Hawthorne. Warmth map knowledge exhibits individuals utilizing bike and scooter share typically journey alongside extra harmful corridors as an alternative of taking the detour to greenways – how a lot of that’s as a result of they don’t know the greenways even exist? This may very well be a chance for extra wayfinding alongside the Hawthorne hall so individuals – in automobiles and on bikes alike – truly know the place the nice bike streets are.
Wagner stated there’s potential for extra of this, which may come within the type of particular toppers (a.okay.a. “rider indicators”) on road identify indicators (at proper) or extra inexperienced crosswalks to point bike crossings. These could be good locations to begin, however in my view, much more must be accomplished to verify persons are conscious of Portland’s greenways.
As a result of most greenways are simply residential streets with out locations, a brand new Portlander could not uncover them in the event that they don’t know what to search for, and subsequently could not know concerning the bike community town has spent a lot money and time to develop. And in the event you by no means see anybody driving a motorbike, you’re most likely not going to really feel compelled to take up biking for the primary time. That’s simply primary advertising and marketing, and it leads to a self-perpetuating downward spiral of motorbike riders.
Once I first realized concerning the push for bike lanes on Hawthorne, I believed it was a bit overblown: I lived a block away and didn’t have a lot bother navigating the greenway system. However I’ve realized now the sturdy emotions round this subject go deeper than that. I used to be already a frequent bike commuter after I moved to the neighborhood and so I used to be prepared to exit of my method to determine one of the best routes to get round by bike. Not everybody goes to try this. And that’s precisely the issue.
If we proceed to cover our greatest biking streets, we’ll by no means discover the rise in ridership we desperately want.
If one factor was clear from the Bike Loud trip, it’s that the neighborhood fireplace for Hawthorne bike lanes continues to be burning.. So who is aware of? Perhaps the saga isn’t over but.
Taylor has been BikePortland’s workers author since November 2021. She has additionally written for Road Roots and Eugene Weekly. Contact her at email@example.com